In the three seasons since reaching the Stanley Cup Final, the Devils have finished 28th, 27th and 28th overall in average goals-for per game.
During the 2011-12 season, the Devils were 15th overall in average goals-for per game. It was also the last season the club had a 30-goal scorer with Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and David Clarkson all reaching the 30-goal mark.
Last season New Jersey scored an average of 2.15 goals-for per-game ahead of only Arizona (2.01) and Buffalo (1.87).
Mike Cammalleri led the Devils with 27 goals in 2014-15 – his highest total since the 2008-09 season. No other member of the Devils reached the 20-goal mark.
“Looking at the team from the outside, since I just got here, up front is an area we’ll look at,” said Shero after being named the club’s new general manager in May. “We would want to score more goals and create more offense without abandoning a defensive structure and accountability that has been in place for years.”
In an attempt to address the club’s goal-scoring woes, Shero acquired Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks for a pair of draft picks in June. The 24-year-old is coming off a season where he matched his career-best for goals (14) in 57 games with the Ducks.
Barring further additions to help the offense, it’s hard to see this Devils team taking a step forward offensively in 2015-16.
The New Jersey Devils have finished in the bottom-five in scoring for three straight campaigns and once again their offense is a big area of concern.
No New Jersey player reached the 50-point mark last season and only two (Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri) recorded at least 40 points. Acquiring forward Kyle Palmieri in a trade with Anaheim over the summer does help matters, but offensively the Devils look like a long-term project that has only barely begun. Years from now, perhaps Pavel Zacha, who was taken with the sixth overall pick, will be a serious scoring threat, but for now New Jersey doesn’t have much in the way of young, NHL-ready forwards.
Stefan Matteau might establish himself as an NHL regular at the age of 21, but the 2012 first-round pick has never been a major contributor offensively. There’s always the chance that Henrique, 25, will take a step forward, but his career-high remains 51 points from his rookie season when he was working with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. There’s clearly no one at that level for him to play off of at this time.
The good news is that the Devils’ situation looks less bleak when you move past their offense as in contrast, the blueline’s rebuild seems to be moving along nicely. Adam Larsson took a significant step forward last season and the hope is that he’ll lead the charge along with Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, and Damon Severson. The oldest of them, Gelinas, only celebrated his 24th birthday in May.
Then of course there’s their goaltending, which is in the capable hands of Cory Schneider. He demonstrated last season under trying circumstances that the Devils’ goalie situation remains their strength, even in the post-Martin Brodeur era.
Taking it all in, New Jersey isn’t without its strengths and upside, but until the Devils get to the point where they’re at least passable offensively, it will be difficult for them to make a serious run at a playoff spot.
The New Jersey Devils have traditionally been against any player wearing the number 13, to the point where Mike Cammalleri had to switch to No. 23 after being signed to a five-year, $25 million contract last summer.
“I just showed up and No. 23 was in my stall,” Cammalleri told NJ Advance Media last year. To be fair, he didn’t ask for No. 13, but he had been wearing it since he was seven with the exception of times when it wasn’t available to him.
“Signing in New Jersey and all the respect I have for Lou [Lamoriello], that’s not a conversation you have, what number you wanted to wear,” Cammalleri explained, per the Devils’ website.
With Lou Lamoriello gone though and Ray Shero now in charge, Cammalleri took the opportunity to become the first player in New Jersey’s history to claim No. 13. Including the franchise’s time prior to being relocated, Cammalleri will become the second player after Robin Burns.
Jordin Tootoo will also switch from No. 20, which he wore last season, to his more common No. 22. That leaves 24-year-old Eric Gelinas, who wore No. 22 last season, with No. 44.
Carey Price has the night off. So, enter Dustin Tokarski into the crease for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs’ back-up goalie made a spectacular save, moving to his left, to deny New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson of what looked to be a sure goal during the second period of Friday’s game.
Tokarski first stopped Mike Cammalleri, but gave up the rebound, which came right out to Severson. He didn’t waste any time letting go of his shot, but Tokarski had already moved into position to make the second save.